It may be a bit of a stretch to call it the sensation that's sweeping the nation, but a spot of bubble tea is becoming a popular afternoon break at Hepburn's Crepe & Coffee in The Village of Rochester Hills.
Hepburn owner Deanna Birg has seen a bubble tea following "all across the board. There are a lot of college kids drinking it, but I see 10-year-olds and 70 year-olds drinking it, too."
What makes bubble tea so popular?
"It's chewy, it's amusing, it's fun!" Birg said. "Just look at the straw!"
That is one big straw
Bubble tea originated in Taiwan during the 1980s. Birg discovered it more recently and made it her own.
"I make it the original way with fresh brewed tea, Birg said.
The next step is to add the syrup. Hepburn's offers eight different syrups to mix and match, from hazelnut to Granny Smith apple. Bubble teas can also be flavored with coffee mix-ins like chocolate, toffee or caramel. A popular combination this time of year is caramel apple.
The tea is then steamed to infuse the flavor.
And the last step is the reason for that over-the-top straw: boiling the tapioca balls.
The balls are similar to gummy bears that you chew as you drink. They are typically black, although sometimes Birg uses rainbow-colored balls.
The tea is served cold, over ice, and a 16 ounce serving is $4.75.
To sweeten your day
Besides the chewy tapioca with its fun straw, Birg thinks there's another reason for bubble tea's popularity.
"It's a great low-calorie treat if you want something sweet," Birg said.
Depending on your combination, most bubble tea concoctions are well under 100 calories (though adding the yummies like chocolate and a splash of milk gets you closer to that three digit number).
Mango is the most popular flavor served at Hepburn's although Birg named her favorite as "any of the berries."
As for me, apple fan though I may be, my vote goes to chocolate and hazelnut.
Hepburn's Crepe & Coffee is located at 170 N. Adams in The Village of Rochester Hills. They can be reached at 248-375-7728.